Stealing someone’s pet bunny rabbit — now that’s just wrong

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Just when you thought crime couldn’t get any worse in New York City, some scumbags come along and steal someone’s pet bunny rabbit. Now that’s just wrong.

I read about the incident on usnews.com a couple of days ago. But since the Associated Press doesn’t want its material rewritten or redistributed), I won’t go into any details here. If you want to know more, you’ll just have to click the link. If you don’t want to read the story yourself, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

But that’s really neither here nor there. The bottom line is the story made my blood boil. I mean, come on. Really? What the hell is wrong with people? It’s bad enough to steal someone’s stuff, but taking their pet is disgusting, cruel, and downright despicable. The people who did it obviously have no shame, that much is for sure.

Moral outrage aside, the incident does raise an interesting question about how we value our pets.

Assuming the owner(s) filed a police report, they would have to provide a monetary value for any and all stolen property — including the bunny. (Yes, legally, our pets are also considered personal property.) To the police, that’s very important. The value of the stolen property determines how the incident is classified — specifically whether it’s categorized as a misdemeanor (petty theft/petty larceny) or a felony.

Yes, it’s cold. But legally, that’s just the way it is.

So how much is a pet bunny worth? Or any pet, for that matter? Do you put what you paid for your pet? What if you got it for free? When you calculate its value, do you include veterinary costs, the amount spent on pet food, pet toys, and other accessories? If you have and show a purebred dog or cat, do you include its winnings? What if you have a purebred dog, cat, rabbit that you are breeding? Do you include income from the past sales of its offspring?

And then there are the emotional aspects. How do you put a monetary value on a companion? A family member? A friend? If your pet is also a therapy animal, how do put a monetary value on the service it provides for others?

The question is almost impossible to answer. Personally, I’ve loved my pets more than life and I’ve spent thousands on them over the years. So far this week alone, I’ve spent more than $200 on Eli’s medicine. His vet visit — including x-rays, blood work and exam — well, let’s just say it was expensive. But more importantly, it’s worth it.

New Ohio law makes animal cruelty a felony

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

A first time conviction for animal cruelty in Ohio could soon result in harsher penalties.

According to published reports, state lawmakers recently passed HB60, which is also known as Goddard’s Law. The bill — which clarifies and strengthens the state’s existing animal cruelty statutes — becomes law once Gov. John Kasich signs it.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

As it now stands, Ohio law prohibits anyone from “knowingly torture, torment, needlessly mutilate or maim, cruelly beat, poison, needlessly kill, or commit an act of cruelty against a companion animal.” That remains unchanged. However, the new language in the version of HB60 passed by the House is even more explicit about what constitutes “serious physical harm,”  and the penalties upon conviction.

It stipulates that “no person shall knowingly cause serious physical harm to a companion animal” by doing any or all of the following:

  • Withholding adequate food and water (directly resulting in the companion animal’s illness or death)
  • Causing the companion animal to be and remain in pain for a prolonged or sustained period
  • Engaging in any activity that could kill the companion animal
  • Engaging in any activity that the companion animal’s partial or permanent and total disability
  • Engaging in any activity that causes prolonged suffering

Anyone convicted of doing any or all of the above faces a fifth-degree felony charge and faces six months to a year in prison upon conviction.

Why Is This Such A Big Deal?

In most states, someone found guilty of animal cruelty for the first time only faces a misdemeanor charge. This usually means that he or she can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, fined or both. In some states there are harsher penalties the next time you’re convicted and for each time after that.

But in most cases the offender just gets a proverbial “slap on the wrist.” And given the correlation between violence targeting animals and violence towards people, I think that’s an absolute joke.

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let me know.